May 07, 2021

Measuring Up at the Annual Roadcheck

Measuring Up at the Annual Roadcheck

Truck drivers and fleet managers have to follow a lot of rules and regulations. While sometimes we all may feel these mandates are in place to make our lives more difficult, the reality is they work to ensure safety for everyone on the road.

There are more than 3.6 million heavy-duty rigs running across the United States. As you can imagine, making sure all of them are in compliance with regulations can be a pretty tall order. Sure, there’s DOT and CVIP inspections, but some vehicles still slip through the cracks.

The result of this is the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Roadcheck. Once a year, typically in the beginning of summer, officials step up their motor vehicle inspections. Here at Fullbay, we refer to it as Inspectionpalooza.

(Editor’s Note: No, Suz, we don’t call it that.)

Now, by the time this blog goes to press, the 2021 edition of Roadcheck, which runs from May 4-6, will be over, but it will happen again in 2022. And as the CVSA likes to remind us, “Inspections are still conducted every day of the year.”

So what happens during CVSA Roadcheck?

We’ll discuss that below, as well as how you, as a shop owner, can help drivers prepare for or recover from an inspection that occurs during this event!

What Is The Roadcheck’s Purpose?

Even though heavy-duty trucks have been around for more than a century, it wasn’t until 1997 that officials put a large-scale big rig inspection into effect. That inspection, as we mentioned above, was CVSA’s Roadcheck.

For three days, inspectors in CVSA districts across all of North America (yes—Canada and Mexico participate, too!) check out drivers and their commercial motor vehicles to certify they pass a North American Standard Level Inspection.

Trucks that clear inspection get a decal indicating that a CVSA-certified inspector evaluated the vehicle and it passed muster. On the other hand, drivers and vehicles with violations are placed out of service (OOS). Trucks that are hit with OOS status can’t operate until the necessary repairs are performed.

What Happens During Roadcheck?

The inspection is thorough. How thorough? Well, the process contains 37 steps.

Yep. Pretty thorough.

Think of this in-depth assessment as a sort of yearly physical for commercial vehicles. Inspectors look at things like:

  • exhaust and brake systems
  • tires
  • lighting mechanisms
  • coupling devices
  • cargo securement
  • frames
  • suspension
  • van bodies
  • open-top trailer bodies
  • driveline/driveshaft
  • fuel systems
  • tires, wheels, rims, hubs
  • windshield wipers

Passenger-carrying vehicles like buses have additional features subject to inspection. Those include seating and emergency exits as well as electrical systems and components in the battery and engine.

Roadcheck inspectors aren’t concerned only with vehicles, either; the assessment also extends to drivers. They must have current operating credentials and have to provide their hours of service (HOS) documentation. Drivers are checked for seatbelt usage and drug or alcohol impairment, among other things.

Focus on Lighting

While the Roadcheck looks at all the critical components of commercial vehicles, each year has a specific focus that inspectors will zero in on. For 2021, that focus is on lighting and the aforementioned hours of service.

Why lighting? Well, based on data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the most common vehicle violation discovered in 2020 was “lamps inoperable”—yep, lighting. Similarly, during 2020’s Roadcheck, hours of service were a huge driver-centric violation.

How Shops Can Prepare a Truck for Roadcheck

Being knocked out of service is a financial hit to everyone involved. Now, your shop can’t do much about driver hours, but you can help fleet managers and drivers make sure their vehicles are in compliance with regulations and will pass muster with inspectors.

The yearly date and focus points of Roadchecks are usually announced in late January or early February. This means you have time to do the following:

  • Spread the word. You’ve got the information about the Roadcheck, so give your customers (and potential customers) a heads up by posting about it on your shop blog or social media. You can even create a downloadable checklist of all the elements inspectors will be looking at so drivers and fleet managers can review it as necessary.
  • Offer a Roadcheck deal. Yes, you should perform an inspection each time a truck arrives in your shop, but start advertising a more robust Roadcheck Inspection available between March and May. You can cover all the elements of the Roadcheck itself, including the focus points, to make sure the truck in question is ready for its close-up.
  • Encourage preventive maintenance. Most of the inspections that occur during Roadcheck are Level I. If you’re providing regular preventive maintenance (PM) for a truck, then it’s already a step ahead of its competitors because it’s being regularly maintained and looked at. If your tech spots a problem, an inspector at Roadcheck will spot it, too. We talk about how vital PM work is all the time, but fleet managers may be especially receptive in the weeks leading up to Roadcheck.
  • Offer Roadcheck repairs. Some trucks are not going to pass Roadcheck inspections. It is, sadly, a fact of life. What happens to a truck when it flunks depends on the nature of its problem; some trucks may be able to continue on to a repair place, but others will be OOS’d on the spot. The OOS’d trucks can’t legally operate until their issues are repaired, and their owners are likely losing a lot of money on them. If you’ve got a mobile repair tech (or are one yourself), this is your moment: you get to head out and be the hero. In other cases, a truck may need to be towed to your shop for a repair before it can resume its duties.

Treat Every Day Like Roadcheck

Inspectapalooza—uh, we mean Roadcheck—might sound like something big and out of the ordinary, but in reality, it checks up on common-sense things that fleets and drivers should keep up with on a daily basis. That means trucks receiving preventive maintenance have a sizable competitive advantage over those that don’t.

PM work can be a sizable revenue stream for any shop, and pitching it to fleet managers during the lead-up to Roadcheck can land you valuable work. If you’re using Fullbay to track PM work, you’re already in a pretty awesome spot. Our software puts the history of every truck right at your fingertips, so you know what’s been done and when, as well as what kind of work is coming up.

If you’re ready to see how Fullbay can help you keep trucks on the road (and safely away from the dreaded OOS status), give our free demo a try. By working together, we can help keep the roads safer and give inspectors far less to do!

Suz Baldwin